Dems Turn Session Into Total Chaos - Watch
On Friday morning, chaos erupted in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature when a Democratic state senator openly voiced her support for transgender people during a debate over a bill to ban state-funded sex change procedures for minors.
The bill, which passed through the State Senate and is now on Gov. Jim Pillen's desk awaiting his signature, would also reportedly ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
As debate about the bill began to heat up, state Senator Machaela Cavanaugh started shouting out her support for transgender people with an impassioned plea for their safety, acceptance and belonging.
"Transgender people belong here, we need trans people, we love trans people," shouted Sen. Cavanaugh. "You matter. You matter and I am fighting for you. I will not stop. I will not stop today, I will not stop tomorrow. You are loved. You matter. You belong here."
Cavanaugh's shouting and fervent defense of transgender people went on for approximately one minute before she went on to accuse her conservative counterparts of "allow[ing] themselves to be bought" by the governor and warned that people, medical professionals and businesses will leave the state if they vote to ban the procedures and after 12-week abortions.
In the end, enough Republican lawmakers voted for the hybrid bill in order to pass it and the scene quickly devolved into chaos after protesters in the balcony began to scream obscenities at conservative lawmakers and threw what appeared to be bloody tampons onto the floor.
At least six people have been arrested for protesting the bill and its current status means that it will likely become the law.
The 12-week abortion provision included exceptions for rape and incest and would become the latest addition to an alarming trend of abortion restrictions in the US. Nebraska already restricts abortions up to 20 weeks and 14 states now have laws that restrict abortion throughout pregnancy.
The bill also won't allow any transgender people under 19 years old to undergo gender surgeries, with a few select exceptions that would be set by the state's chief medical officer, an ear, nose and throat doctor.
In response to the highly emotional scenes of Friday morning, many medical groups and activists focused on the potential long-term implications this hybrid bill may have on transgender youth and their health.
If signed into law, this measure would add to the 17 other states in the US that have already enacted laws restricting or banning transgender surgeries, hormones and therapies for minors. Moreover, similar proposals are pending before the governors of Texas and Missouri.
Only time will tell the true gravity of the potential fallout, but, for the moment, Nebraska residents can only wait and see whether or not Gov. Pillen will sign the law into action.